Last night the rain was different. Weightier, more portentous. It arrived not with the light patter of a dancer's feet, but with the deep sigh of a train pulling into a station. There was the same sense of anticipation fulfilled, of a relief that felt almost like excitement. Standing at the window, I saw the trees bending their backs to the storm's baggage, preparing to be jostled. Fat drops of water clawed at the panes, fell clinking on the airconditioners. A sense of arrival was everywhere.
Back in bed again, I dreamed that the monsoon was a great locomotive, rumbling its way across the land. Gray-haired clouds turned restlessly within it, trying to fit their obese bodies to its sky-blue bunks, playing charades to pass the time.
I too was riding this train. I heard the thunder of its engines, the lazy rattle of its progress. Every now and then the train would stop, sometimes at a village station, sometimes in the middle of a field, and a cloud or two would hop off. There was no timetable to this, but the people must have known because wherever we stopped they were waiting to receive us.
And everywhere we went the children would come out to stare at this strange visitor, half-naked, amazed, wondering how far away it had come from; laughing and pointing, or just standing wide-eyed by the tracks, feeling the power of this apparition rushing down on them. Hearing the wind of it whistle through the fields. Seeing its windows flash like lightning in the night.
And afterwards, in the morning, the air cool, clean like metal. That newly washed sense of distance made possible.